Bob Iger is back. As announced late Sunday evening, the veteran studio head has made an unexpected return to Disney and has reassumed his role as chief executive officer of the company. Iger had previously retired from his corporate positions in 2021, ending over two decades of serving as Disney's president and CEO. Bob Chapek, a 26-year Disney veteran in his own right, was announced as Iger's successor in February 2020 and was scheduled to take over all responsibilities once Iger officially exited Disney at the conclusion of 2021, which he did for the majority of 2022. This past summer, Chapek even inked a three-year extension to remain as Disney CEO but would depart the company just five months later.
While the move was a shocking and sudden power shift, investors are high on Iger's comeback. As reported by Variety, Disney's shares have climbed "more than 8 percent" in early trading on Monday.
MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson specifically praised Iger's return, emphasizing that the longtime CEO is highly responsible for making Disney into what it is today.
"We applaud Disney's board for the courage to make this change," Nathanson wrote. "We have never hidden our affection for Mr. Iger and the job that he did in building Disney into the global powerhouse that it has become."
This surge in stock comes at a good time for Disney. Just two weeks ago during its quarterly report, the house of mouse revealed their lowest share prices in over two years, including an operating loss of $1.47 billion in its streaming segment (Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu). Beyond that, the company indicated that early 2023 projections would include higher declines than initially expected.
Iger's return is only temporary, as he is set to serve as CEO for a two-year term. During these next 24 months, Disney has mandated that Iger sets "the strategic direction for renewed growth" as well as working closely "with the board in developing a successor to lead the company at the completion of his term."
"I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO," Iger said in a statement. "Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling."